Is That Really You?

The picture below has eight different perspectives. Spend a few moments and see how many you can make out.

It is a bit of a strange test. Some people will be able to see all eight perspectives and others will not. Even those who can see the different views will have trouble holding some in mind and getting them to come to mind when they want to evoke them.

In some ways, this picture, because of its multiple perspectives, provides the best example of personality. The personality of an individual person is based on the attitudes and behaviors that get conveyed to others in various situations.

Some attitudes and behaviors will only become apparent in certain situations, while others will be fairly obvious at all times.

The difference between this picture and life, is that the picture is much less complex. We create mental representations of almost everything we experience and these mental representations are combined and separated regularly.

Leo Tolstoy had this to say about perspective:

“I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.

I spent several hours last night learning to see things from a different perspective.

It was very hard. Much harder than making out the different perspectives in the picture below.


4 replies
  1. Herr Michael
    Herr Michael says:

    I read your blog today, and thought about a mantra that I live by:

    ‘Perception is reality’

    People perceive their situation in one way, others from a different point of view. It has started world wars, religious conflict and many fights. I send the email as an innocuous thing, the person receives it and reads it as a threat. Hindus believe that they are on a path to heaven, Christians on a different path, Muslims on another … and all live a reality of being right in their perception of their reality.

    The key, as you live with others can you percieve their reality? Walk a mile in their shoes … Something I struggle with all the time – but try to remember.

  2. Stephen Meyer
    Stephen Meyer says:

    Perception isn’t reality, reality exists whether you percieve it or not. The problem comes when people assume that their perception is reality. You can walk a mile in someone’s shoes, but their shoes will really be there even if you don’t.

  3. Josh
    Josh says:

    Agreed, perception is not reality. I can think of a certain time in history where a misguided person thought his perception of reality was right and executed millions of people because of it. Was Herr Michael suggesting that we walk in that type of a person’s shoes to see their perspective? I think not. I think that reality exists separate from perception and what we perceive is entirely biased due to who we are and how we’ve been brought up.

  4. Michael
    Michael says:

    OK, so I thought about the comments (Actually, reminds me of when someone said to me ‘Is it really – everything in moderation? everything? (wink)).

    A point on the shoes: “You can walk a mile in someone”™s shoes, but their shoes will really be there even if you don”™t.” I actually used the statement not in the literal sense, but figuratively. It is about viewing the world from the other person’s viewpoint. Whether they have shoes is irrelivant.

    I put it in my blog …

    This is a good one to debate. One of my first mentors provided me with this statement “Perception is reality”. I can still remember saying that to my dad years ago, to his dismay. But it remains something that I believe today.

    The definition of reality from The quality or state of being actual or true. That which exists objectively and in fact.

    To me, the word ‘objectively’ is the key word. It is hard to argue with certain realities: The sky is blue, water is wet, stone is hard. That being said, beyond the physical elements of the shoe, the rock or water, reality is not concrete.

    Take a simple thing like a conversation: I am talking with someone, they say something. My perception is that the statement is offensive. That forms the basis of my reality, the state of ‘actually being true’. Why? Because to me it is true. To me, that statement was offensive.

    Now, from the other side – the person did not say it as an offensive thing. The speaker’s statement and reality is that the statement was harmless. To the speaker, the state of ‘being true’, or their reality is that it is not an offensive statement.

    If the two people walk away from each other at that point, 2 realities exist. The speaker’s reality that nothing bad was said. The listener’s reality that the statement was rude. But then, what is the actual reality? What is the actual state of truth?

    Some would argue that the reality is that it was offensive because the person was offended. Others would argue that because the intent of the statement was not offensive, the reality is that it was not offensive, maybe the speaker was over sensitive that morning.

    You know what I think? I think that a single reality does not exist, that two states of truth exist at the moment. That is why they invented the word paradox ( Def’n: An assertion that is essentially self-contradictory, though based on a valid deduction from acceptable premises. An assertion that is essentially self-contradictory, though based on a valid deduction from acceptable premises.)

    How do we fix this paradox? The two people could come back together, have a chat and bingo! one of them changes their perception of the situation and a single reality is created – which they now share.

    But in the end, the point of the statement is not to point out what the actual truth is. The point of the statement is to demonstrate that people’s perceptions dictate their reality – that which they believe to be true. To me, that is a valuable thing to remember in sales, management or life.

    I may perceive my actions as the right actions, thus forming the reality in which I live while others who I work with or sell to may perceive my actions in a completely different way, forming their reality and truths. The key is, can you take the leap to see it from their viewpoint, understand their perceptions? That ability breaks down barriers, changes paradigms and alters the reality in which people operate.

    In the end, I think I would change the statement from “perception is reality” to “a person’s perception is their reality”.


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